Dear LAFC Owners,
Welcome to MLS! This is a very exciting time for not only soccer here in the United States, but MLS as well. The sport and the league have both experienced exponential growth in this country, and I'm sure this looks like a can't-miss addition to your financial portfolio. And it can be. But please, enter this venture with great caution and understand that this venture will only work as hard for you as you work for it.
None of you have experience owning a franchise in MLS, and that's ok. Mr. Tan, you have experience owning a soccer club. This is not the same. I can't emphasize that point enough. Forget everything you've learned from Cardiff. This is not the same. Please, learn from those who have spent a career here with MLS. Look at the teams that have been successful over the long-term. Learn the nuances - and there are many of them - of the league and its rules. Not everything will make sense. It's ok. Don't try and fight it. Just try and understand it and work within the confines of them.
The rest of you - Mr. Nguyen, Mr. Johnson, Mr. and Ms. Hamm-Garciaparra, et al - please use your star power to promote this team and this team only. Yes, this may seem a bit selfish, but trust me soccer was doing great throughout the majority of this country without you (ok well maybe not without you specifically, Ms. Hamm-Garciaparra) and will continue to do so. Where it didn't do well was right where you are standing now. Please, promote your team in your city and abroad. Let the rest of us worry about our teams. Your team needs you. All of you.
Learn from the mistakes of your predecessor. This is not a branding exercise, and there is no guarantee of success. Your predecessors were a textbook case of what not to do when owning a franchise. Don't give away your talent. Make other teams give you fair market value for them. Don't ignore glaring problems. If you need a giant tarp over half of the stadium, this is a problem and it's up to you to fix that. And please, if you don't listen to another word I say, please don't ever take your fans for granted.
You will undoubtedly start off with a core of fans more loyal than perhaps any team deserves. These are the Black Army 1850, Union Ultras, and anyone else who still wants to care about a second soccer team in Los Angeles. They have been to hell and back. Treat these people like your family because they are your family. Understand what these people have been through to support a team, and respect them for it. Love them for it. These folks are a gift from whatever higher power you may or may not believe in. Cherish them, for they are the reason your business venture exists in the first place. Don't ever lose sight of that, because the moment you do your business will die just as your predecessor's did.
And lastly, just do your own thing. You get to start from scratch. Hire good people. Design a fun crest with fun colors that represent who you are. And definitely don't try to be the LA Galaxy. Not everyone wants to be a Galaxy fan - if they did, there'd be no calling for your team. Just as not everyone wants to be a Lakers fan (sorry, Mr. Johnson) which makes the Clippers a viable option, not everyone wants to root for the Evil Empire of the Galaxy. Do your own thing. Forge your own path in MLS.
Best of luck in MLS. See you in 2017.
Managing Editor - The Brotherly Game